Holidays in South Africa 2013/2014:
Without doubt, South Africa completely embodies the term ‘Rainbow Nation’ and if you’re into sun-drenched vineyards, far-reaching coastlines, abundant wildlife and absolutely no jet-lag then, welcome to paradise. You’ll discover a vast range of activities and things to do and, seeing as you’ll only be 2 hours in front of GMT, you can really hit the ground running. The ‘Mother City’ of Cape Town makes for an awesome base with the likes of Table Mountain, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and a fantastic choice of bars, shops and restaurants all within walking distance. If you’re up for a slightly wilder experience then you won’t find many better locations than Kruger National Park which boasts an unrivalled array of animals as well as some excellent accommodation, including luxury lodges and authentic safari camps. With road trips to the vineyards of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek competing with the fabulous Garden Route to Port Elizabeth, South Africa is truly as diverse as her rainbow name suggests. From whale watching and sleepy seaside towns to living the high life in the trendy clubs and bars of Johannesburg, this is your chance to experience all that this great country stands for and make the folks back home green with envy.
Things to do/Attractions
For many, the absolutely ‘must do’ whilst in South Africa is to go on safari and the legendary game reserves of Madikwe and Kruger promise an incredible chance to see native animals in their natural environment. The fabulous ‘Big Five’ all call South Africa their home and spending an evening or early morning with your binoculars trained on a watering hole is pretty much as good as it gets. Flydrive options allow you to really take in all of the sights and if you feel the need to tackle Route 62 and the world-famous Garden Route, then prepare to discover some of the greatest picnic spots on the planet.
SA is a foodie’s paradise and you’ll be able to enjoy everything that your heart desires as well as a few local surprises thrown in for fun. If you’re into people watching over a chilled glass of something sassy then check out V&A Waterfront in Cape Town as from sushi bars and fresh oysters to a stunning selection of harbour-front restaurants, this is where things start to get social. Eating out is pretty darn affordable and dinner in a mid-range restaurant will set you back around ten English pounds. If you fancy an altogether more out of town experience then the vineyards of Stellenbosch are close by and boast some of the country’s finest gourmet tucker as well as a fabulous selection of cold, clear and delicious wines.
Activities after the sun sets can be as diverse as: taking a nocturnal safari in search of elephants, rhinos and buffalos or making some shapes on the lively city dance floors, the choice is yours. The casinos and 5-star resorts of Sun City are as bright and buzzing as Vegas and if you’re looking for round-the-clock action then right here’s where it’s at. Cape Town’s pretty hard to beat for evening excitement and many of our hotels are situated near the waterfront, perfect for an evening sundowner. As most resorts have an excellent blend of restaurants, bars and moon-lit terraces, they’re often a preferred option after dark and with some live music, or just the sounds of the bush, thrown in for good measure, you really couldn’t want for much more.
Not to be missed
With a stellar cast of: lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards and rhinos, waiting to make your acquaintance, a safari in the national parks and game reserves of South Africa has to be at the top of your wish list. Aside from the really wild highlights, a boat ride to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held captive, offers an excellent opportunity to find out more about SA’s turbulent past. Cape Town holds plenty of attractions and the cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain opens up some spectacular views of the sprawling city and resplendent coastline beyond. From the criss-cross of trails within the Drankensberg Mountain range to the stunning scenery where two oceans meet at Cape Point, SA has so many natural show-stoppers picking just one is nigh on impossible.
Best for families
Kids and South Africa go together like campfires and biltong, so make sure you prepare your young warriors prior to take off. Thanks to the minimal time difference, jet-lag isn’t an issue and as soon as you discover the delights of Cape Town, for example: the Two Oceans Aquarium and the penguins of Boulder’s Beach, finding things to do won’t be a problem either. Most resorts and hotels have excellent facilities for children and combining swimming pools with beach time is the perfect way to spend the day. If you’re on safari then there really isn’t a dull moment and giving your young naturalists the chance to see wild animals out of captivity is an experience they’ll never forget.
Best for couples
From romantic waterfront dining to nights spent under canvas, a trip to South Africa holds an exceptional mix of natural, cultural and cosmopolitan activities for couples to enjoy. The guided walks and boat trips from coastal towns, such as Hermanus, provide some really special moments and catching your first dolphin or whale sighting is a joy to behold. The resorts and hotels of Sun City offer an altogether more shiny approach to having a good time and if you’re looking for all-night dancing then check out the hip clubs and pubs in Johannesburg. City Bowl in Cape Town has some fantastic artisan districts featuring a wide range of galleries, museums and architecture however, if you want to really get away from it all then head to the battlefields of KwaZulu Natal where you’ll discover the tribal traditions of the Zulu nation.
Why not treat yourself to a wedding and honeymoon with a difference as you combine the bright lights of Sun City or Cape Town with an amazing safari amongst the national parks and game reserves of South Africa? This really is the perfect place to start your dream journey together and there are so many stunning natural sights, you won’t fail to get swept up in the moment. If luxury’s what you’re after then our resorts and hotels are second-to-none and from spa treatments to fine dining, there’s an awesome array of options to ensure your big day goes without a hitch. If you really fancy pushing the boat out then why not combine a wedding in Cape Town with a honeymoon in Mauritius? After all, this is your special event so you might as well make the most of it.
There’s always some kind of festival going on in South Africa and if you’re into keeping fit then the world’s largest cycle tour, The Argus, takes place in Cape Town during March. If you prefer life at a more sedate pace then May and June are ideal as Cape Town indulges in two of its most favourite passions, food and wine. With a whale festival in September and a beer festival in November, Cape Town is an inspirational city whenever you’re visiting. If you fancy exploring further afield, the towns and communities along the Garden Route have loads of events throughout the calendar year and from literature and the arts in March to body-boarding and a celebration of cheese in July, you’ll find plenty of excuses to take a break and have fun with the locals.
Weather/Best time to go
South Africa is an excellent option if you’re searching for winter sunshine as from mid-October to mid-February temperatures are in the late twenties to early thirties and afternoon rain tends to offer respite and be gone before you know it. If you simply can’t abide any precipitation whatsoever then mid-Feb to April is the perfect time to visit and Cape Town, in particular, offers sun-filled days and warm alfresco nights. From May to July temperatures dip into the early twenties and it does get a lot cooler at night. These ‘winter’ months are perfect for trekking and wildlife watching but just make sure you remember your woollies for round the camp fire in the evening. Finally, if you want a floral treat, head to the Cape provinces in August through to mid-October because the plains and slopes are bedecked in a sensational blanket of spring flowers.
South Africa and adventure go hand in hand with the world’s highest bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge presenting an indomitable challenge for those willing to take the plunge. Of course, with this much natural excitement on display, adventures lie in wait around every bend in the track and safaris and overnight camping excursions will help you to pick up the pace no matter what you’ve experienced before. Alternatives to animal encounters include: paddling down the mighty Zambezi, rock climbing in the Drakensberg Mountains and white-water-rafting along the lumps and bumps of the Sabie River, all you have to do is hold on tight and scream if you want to go faster.
In Cape Town, you'll find huge modern shopping malls where you'll doubtless be able to pick up some bargains. Check out the impressive, 400-outlet Canal Walk Century City. Durban is famous for its Indian influence, and in Dr Yusuf Dadoo street you can wander the bazaars, buying spices and beautiful textiles from the local vendors. In the Zulu craft markets you could pick up a drum, a shield or maybe some pottery.
South Africa is a large country covering over 470,000sq miles and a self-drive holiday is a great way to explore this rainbow nation. The road network is superb and well maintained, they drive on the left and the signposting is generally good, so it is hard to get lost. Distances between destinations can be considerable, so it is worth taking some time to plan your route. For instance, Johannesburg to Kruger National Park takes approx 5 hours. Cape Town to Knysna takes approx 5 hours. Please refer to individual pages under ‘location’ for the approx driving times.
So, if a holiday in South Africa sounds like a perfect getaway, why not find out more about our fantastic South African resorts, hotels and package holidays!
Flight Details Direct Virgin Atlantic flights to Johannesburg depart daily from London Heathrow. For even more flexibility, call us for options to fly with KLM via Amsterdam, Qatar Airways via Doha or Emirates via Dubai.
Flight Upgrades Available in all airlines, please call us for details.
Flight Times Approx 11 hours to Johannesburg.
- Beautiful scenery
- Superb food & shopping
- Game Reserves
- Culture & history
Postcards from... Top ideas from our travel experts
Different destinations have different magic touches so make sure to check them out to see what makes your holiday with us so special.
Bottle of beer locally R 16 - 340 ml (price varies depending on type of beer)
Bottle of coke locally - R 7.00 for 500ml
Bottle of wine locally - R 50.00 for 750ml (price varies depending on type of wine)
Local meal in reasonable priced restaurant - R 130.00 per person
Local meal in the best restaurant in the area - R500.00 per person
Bottle of beer hotel - R36.00 340ml
Bottle of coke hotel - R17.50 200ml
Bottle of wine hotel - R105.00 750ml (price varies depending on type of wine)
Lunch at a hotel - R185.00
Dinner at a hotel -R 200.00
Prices are a guideline only and are subject to change.
More useful info:
British citizens do not require a visa, however, please note that your passport must have at least 1 blank page for the South Africa entry stamp. British visitors without a free blank page in their passports will be denied entry.
GMT +2 hours
South African Rand (ZAR)
South Africa’s electrical current is 220-230 volts and has unique round 3-pin plugs, so if you want to recharge your electrical equipment, you will need an adaptor. These are readily available in South Africa.
Look from a distance and respect their space. Please do not feed any wild animals.
Tipping is not compulsory but is appreciated. In restaurants 10-15% is the norm. On game drives a guideline is ZAR50 per drive.
what to pack
Clothing - South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere and the seasons fall in opposite months to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer runs from Nov-Feb. The temperatures can vary greatly within South Africa, so it’s important to take into consideration the season and the region when you pack! On safari, neutral coloured, lightweight clothing that you can layer are best, and take a warm fleece or jacket for the mornings and evenings which can get cool, particularly in winter. A waterproof jacket and comfortable shoes are also essential! For city hotels, bars and restaurants, smart/casual attire may be required. Remember a camera with plenty of film/batteries, binoculars, torch, suncream, sunglasses, sun hat and insect repellent are also recommended.
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